LENA Space, a disruptive rocket propulsion start-up based in the UK is working with Dr Andy Wheeler and Dr Liping Xu from the Whittle Laboratory at Cambridge University. This collaboration combines LENA’s experience and vision for fast-to-market, low-cost launch propulsion technology with world-leading researchers in turbomachinery to develop market leading turbo-pumps for rocket propulsion.
Drs Wheeler and Xu, experts in turbomachinery aerodynamics and high fidelity computational simulations of turbomachinery flows, are providing their extensive expertise in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and thermodynamics to advise LENA on their Space turbine. The turbine provides the power for driving the propellant pumps which feed the fuel and oxygen to the rocket motor combustion chamber and comprises of rotating blades mounted on discs. The CFD analysis is critical to ensuring high performance and reducing the risk of failure on launch critical technology, with turbopump development generally estimated as over 50% of total propulsion development (Science World Report, 2013).
Lee Giles, Chief Technology Officer, LENA Space commented:
“We are excited to be working with the Whittle laboratory. It’s a great opportunity for LENA Space to draw upon the expertise of industry specialists with experience of turbomachinery for multiple applications to optimise airflow paths critical to performance.”
Dr Andrew Wheeler from the Whittle Laboratory commented:
“UK Space propulsion is an exciting area where the use of state-of-the-art simulation and design methods are likely to significantly improve performance.”
This project is the first stage in an ambitious programme for LENA Space, which includes supporting the UK ambitions for domestic launch capability by 2021. Critical to this is enabling access to space with fast-to-market, cost-effective launch capabilities (UK Space, 2015). UK-based rocket propulsion work is considered integral to this goal LENA Space ties together a range of sectors, supply chains and industry leading partners, into a lean business model to deliver innovative fast-to-market solutions.